whole foods markets Inc.

Whole Foods Layoffs: Upscale Grocery Chain Cuts 1,500 Jobs

Whole Foods is laying off about 1,500 employees. The job cuts at the high-end grocery store chains amounts to approximately 1.6 percent of its workforce. Upscale food market operator Whole Foods Market Inc. said it would cut about 1,500 jobs, or about 1.6 percent of its workforce, over the next eight weeks.

The Whole Foods Market layoffs were enacted to reduce costs and help fund the corporation’s technology upgrades, MSN reports. The grocery chain layoffs primarily impact “back of house” positions and not frontline staffers who worked with customers, the company stated.

Workers laid off by Whole Foods will reportedly be offered severance, transition pay, or be allowed to apply for other open positions within the company. The layoffs come at a time when the company is reportedly attempting to rid itself of the “Whole Paycheck” nickname. The moniker evolved due to the grocery chain’s reputation for high price tags.

Whole Foods Market nearly dominates the organic and natural grocery chain niche. However, emerging specialty stores and local farmers markets are reportedly making a dent in the same category and proving to be true competitors, the Times-Picayune reports.

In June, the New York Department of Consumer Affairs launched an investigation into Whole Foods after allegations surfaced that the company charged too much for some prepackaged foods at nine stores in the city.

The grocery chain was also recently the target of a PETA lawsuit. Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb addressed the allegations and legal filing in a recent blog post on the company’s blog.

“Recently, there has been noise generated by PETA that questions the animal welfare standards we use to certify our partner farmers. I want to help set the record straight and reaffirm Whole Foods Market’s unwavering commitment to sourcing from responsible animal welfare practices and standards. We all need to be clear about PETA’s mission. PETA is dedicated to ending animal agriculture and animal meat consumption. Period. The allegations they hurl at Whole Foods Market, and the many other targets on their hit list, are generated with that specific agenda in mind.

“We firmly believe PETA’s lawsuit filed in California is without merit and is a waste of both the court’s time and taxpayer money.”

A statement issued by the company about the layoffs maintained that a “significant percentage” of workers affected by the job cuts “will find other jobs from the nearly 2,000 open positions across the company or via new jobs created from the more than 100 new stores under development.”

“They will also be paid in full over the next eight weeks as they consider their options,” Walter Robb said. “We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

The following is an excerpt about company values from the Whole Foods Market website.

“Whole Foods Market is a dynamic leader in the quality food business. We are a mission-driven company that aims to set the standards of excellence for food retailers. We are building a business in which high standards permeate all aspects of our company. Quality is a state of mind at Whole Foods Market.”

[Image via Ken Wolter/Shutterstock.com]

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